Fresno, Ca., may be the toughest city in the nation on drunken drivers, says USA Today. An intoxicated motorist is more likely to run into a police checkpoint in the city of 461,000 than anywhere else in the nation, say Fresno police. Police sneak into driveways of convicted drunken drivers to plant Global Positioning System tracking devices on their cars and search their homes for evidence they’ve been drinking. Some police, prosecutors, probation officials, and traffic safety advocates are calling for stepped-up efforts to reduce the death toll from drunken driving. After declining for nearly 20 years, the number of people killed each year in alcohol-related crashes leveled off – at 16,000 to 17,000 – in the mid-1990s and hasn’t dropped significantly since.
Only about 1 in 50 alcohol-impaired drivers is arrested, says Susan Ferguson of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, supported by auto insurance companies. “What it amounts to is an awful lot of people who are driving impaired in this country who have no fear of being arrested,” Ferguson says. Many of those who do get arrested don’t stop driving drunk. About a third of all drivers arrested for drunken driving are repeat offenders, says Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group says up to 75 percent of drivers whose licenses are suspended or revoked for DUI continue to drive without a license. More than 30 states have additional penalties for “high-risk” drunken drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .15 to .20 percent. The limit in all 50 states is .08%. Twenty-eight states assign prosecutors to focus on drunken driving. Maine, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin have lowered the maximum blood-alcohol content for repeat offenders to varying limits below .08%.